War Is Heck

Unreal works up a sweat over B-list celebs' military records and plays with anthrax in Forest Park. Plus, a local blogger does his gay part on a hallowed gay day.

One perk of being a newspaper correspondent is that the gates of power swing open at the mere flick of the pen. So it is that Unreal got an early peek at the military records of some of the 150 "persons of exceptional prominence" recently released by the National Archives and Records Administration headquarters here in St. Louis.

Rather than concentrate solely on the A-list celebs, we thought we'd mix it up with a stop at each station on the fame train.

Which, boys and girls, brings us to this week's quiz. Match the celebrity with his military record. (Answers below):

1) Before being shot to death by Chinese communists, this intelligence officer reportedly said: "Never mind! I want to see how the Communists treat Americans. I don't mind if they kill me, for Americans will then stop the Communist movement with Atomic bombs."

2) Pleading financial hardship, this first lieutenant unsuccessfully applied for release from active duty during the Korean War.

3) North Carolina Senator Robert Reynolds recommended that this second lieutenant be transferred to the Morale Division "to better serve by encouraging our young men of the Army in the field of athletics and clean and wholesome living."

4) Producer Jack Runyon unsuccessfully recommended that this staff sergeant receive an early discharge so that he could "organize direct and participate in a weekly half hour radio show which purpose is to create goodwill among Americans."

5) According to his medical history, this recruit was "Very unreliable. He has been fired from every job he had except newspaper reporting. The latter was for a small paper at $15 per week, which he quit. He has been discharged from steamship job, garage job and waiter job. He is irresponsible not caring."

6) While in the air corps, this first lieutenant produced a documentary on a bomber squadron during combat operations in England.

7) This private first class inspired letters requesting his early discharge because "we need him in our entertainment world to make us laugh," and hoping that "Ike would pass a law real soon to exempt [from military service] all entertainers who pay large sums of income taxes."

8) This private first class spent 30 days in the brig after being "absent over leave" for six days in 1949.

ANSWERS:

1. John Birch, 2. Spiro Agnew, 3. Hank Greenberg, 4. Desi Arnaz, 5. Jack Kerouac, 6. Clark Gable, 7. Elvis Presley, 8. Steve McQueen

LOCAL BLOG O' THE WEEK

"This Guy's World"

thisguysworld.blogspot.com

Author: This Guy

About the blogger: "I'm just a guy trying to get through the days and live a life of strong moral values...as taught by Carrie Bradshaw and Buffy Summers." The highlighted entry describes his adventures at PrideFest.

Recent Highlight (June 25, 2005): [...]A little later I met up with my friends Matt, Jeffrey, and their friend, Matt#2. Oh, how walking around with younger, hotter, fit guys does wonders for my self esteem. "Where's the food court in this park?", because as I've said before, I'm an emotional eater. I had a burger and fries while they picked at their watermelon slices. Fuck!

But things started looking up when I saw these two soap-dodgers walking back to their 4x4 -- lesbian cliches trump carb loading any day.

My mood suddenly improved, I decided to have a little fun of my own and offered to let the baby gays cool off in the pool at my apartment building. Moo-Ha-Ha!!

They asked me to join them, but I don't swim. I don't even have swim trunks. Hell, I don't even have shorts. And anyway, after they disrobed in front of me there was no fucking way I was about to play 'which one of these things is not like the other' by taking my shirt off and frolicking in the water with them. "Bear, Bread, Potatoes, Stat!!!"

Although they were quick to line up for their photo op (Matt#1 even decided to wear his towel as a cape, nq), as I snapped these shots I suddenly felt like a very dirty 33 year old...er brother.

So there, I went, I saw, I judged (others and myself), and I staged amateur porn- I did my gay part on this hallowed gay day.

Know of an Unreal-worthy local blog? Send the URL to unreal@riverfronttimes.com.

Spore Me

Lured by a press release that found its way into a Deb Peterson column, some 200 volunteers met on a recent morning under a tent in Forest Park. Some probably came for the free hoagies, others out of curiosity. Unreal came for the anthrax.

This wasn't just any mock bioterrorist event, the first of its kind in St. Louis. No, the city's Department of Health carefully planned this drill, aimed at ensuring our preparedness for an actual attack.

To that end, each volunteer received a card outlining key traits of the victim he or she was to portray. (Unreal's nom d'attaque? Albert Pujols. Special needs: Deaf. Medications: Vitamins.) After fattening ourselves on the health department's dime, we learned we'd taken in a bit of the old Bacillus anthracis. Our infection was two days old.

Now, some people are cool-headed in a crisis, and Unreal must report that our ailing fraternity was as cool as freshly peeled cucumbers. No one shrieked. No one cried. We made small talk and nursed bottled water. But pulling up to the medicine-dispensing site at Wohl Recreation Center, we felt a little weak in the knees. One woman who'd been instructed to act as if she spoke only Tagalog got on the horn to a translator. Another fell to the ground in a Broadway-worthy seizure.

When it came time to receive our mock antidote, we entered the gymnasium, only to be hit by a blast of cool air emanating from a powerful floor fan. Now, Unreal's no anthrax expert, but we do remember something about the U.S. Senate buildings undergoing a thorough cleaning after the 2002 attacks. Wouldn't any spores left clinging to clothing be dislodged by a gust of wind? An anthrax faux pas!

Some of our fellow volunteers experienced more profound revelations. "I realized that my family would die," observed one woman who chose to go by her health department-given identity, "Mrs. Johnson, mother of two." "They told us that the drug they ordered was different from the drug they received, so they started calculating for my daughter using the wrong drugs."

Mrs. J was miffed that no one at the drug dispensary had asked her for ID (no one carded Unreal either): "What's to stop someone from getting back in line? How do they know who's been accounted for?"

Good questions, responds Ellen Ellick, health department flack for bioterrorism and emergency response. And that's precisely the point of the exercise: "If we had it all down perfectly, then we wouldn't waste our time doing drills."

The Pits

It was hotter than a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest last week, but the heat wave had zero impact on Old Spice's annual survey of America's Sweatiest Cities. For the third consecutive year, St. Louis dropped in the rankings, from a high of Number 15 in 2002 to a current low of Number 48.

In search of an explanation of our town's fall, we pulled our head out of the icebox long enough to call Jay Gooch, resident sweat expert for Old Spice.

Unreal: Why has St. Louis fallen so far?

Jay Gooch: We use a weather database of the average temperatures in cities during the months of June, July and August. We then plug the information into a computer model that calculates the sweat output of the average person walking for an hour under those conditions.

Yeah, but it's as steamy here as a bed-wetter's blanket. Don't you account for humidity?

Humidity plays a role, but the dominant factor is heat. Phoenix [Number 1] doesn't have the humidity, but the high temperatures still make you sweat. You just don't feel it as much because it evaporates.

What about BMI [body-mass index]? A lot of St. Louisans are grossly overweight. Sweat can really build up in folds of skin, can't it?

To normalize the study, we put everyone on the same playing field. We choose an average weight of 175 pounds with a BMI of 25. So it's not a svelte person, but not a heavy person either.

Apart from gaining more weight, what can we do to move up in next year's rankings?

It's out of [your] control. It all depends on the weather patterns. But when you look at the way this plays out, we're not talking huge differences between the top 10 cities and some of the other 100 sweatiest cities.

So you're saying we shouldn't be upset with our drop in the ranking?

Not at all. If sweating is what you want to do, I'm sure there are plenty of opportunities to sweat in St. Louis.

When should you never let them see you sweat?

That varies from person to person.

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